April Book Picnic Recommendations

On the first Wednesday of every month, GWL team members and volunteers share what we’ve read recently at our Book Picnic:

  • Other Women by Emma Flint

    Recommended by Elaine, who thoroughly enjoyed it, this is a deeply engaging historical fiction mystery that is inspired by a real murder that shook England in the early 1920s. The novel explores the case through the intertwined lives of two women, Bea and Kate. Bea, an independent woman making a new life in post-war London, and Kate, a wife and mother whose seemingly ordinary life is upended by a shocking revelation, find their destinies intertwined in unexpected ways. The novel examines themes of love, secrets, desire, tragedy, and societal double standards, evoking a range of emotions from rage to empathy. Other Women is a compelling blend of true crime inspiration and literary fiction, making it a thought-provoking read that stays with the reader long after the last page​.

  • Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

    This novel, recommended by Pauline, follows Sadie and Sam, two friends and video game designers, over thirty years. Their partnership starts in their youth and evolves as they navigate personal and professional challenges together. Set against the backdrop of the video game industry, their story explores themes of identity, friendship, and the complex dynamics of love and creativity. Their journey through success and failure is a reflection on the impact of games as a form of connection and expression, and the deep bonds formed through shared passion and ambition. Pauline found it absolutely fascinating, despite not being a gamer, and was really glad she gave it a go. 

  • The Slow Road to Tehran: A Revelatory Bike Ride through Europe and the Middle East by Rebecca Lowe

    This adventurous memoir, also recommended by Pauline, chronicles Lowe’s solo bicycle journey of 11,000km from London to Tehran. This remarkable trip was undertaken to explore and understand the complex region of the Middle East, its people, politics, and its relationship with the West. Through her travels across various countries, Lowe encounters diverse cultures, faces challenges, and discovers true warmth and hospitality, offering insightful perspectives about the Middle East​. 

  • The Fair Botanists by Sara Sheridan 

    Recommended by Anna, who really enjoyed it, this book weaves a tale around the lives of two women in 1822 Edinburgh, a time of intellectual awakening and social intrigue, set against the backdrop of the Royal Botanic Garden. These women become entangled in a world of botanical exploration, personal discovery, and societal shifts. As they navigate their independence and ambitions, their stories intersect with the impending visit of George IV to Scotland, an event stirring excitement and change in the city. Through its rich narrative, the novel explores themes of love, ambition, and the pursuit of knowledge, all while capturing the essence of Edinburgh’s Enlightenment spirit. The story is lauded for its compelling characters, dazzling originality, and its ability to transport readers to the world of early 19th century Scotland.

  • Maude Horton’s Glorious Revenge by Lizzie Pook 

    Also recommended by Anna is this gripping historical mystery set in 1850 London. The story follows Maude Horton as she delves into the disappearance of her younger sister, Constance. After Constance leaves their home disguised as a boy and boards a ship for the Arctic, she never returns, leading to an official declaration of a “tragic accident” by the Admiralty. However, Maude suspects foul play and embarks on a perilous journey to uncover the truth. Her investigation takes her into the dark underbelly of London, where she encounters sinister forces and dangerous men who thrive on the city’s horrors, from public executions to the chilling exhibits of Madame Tussaud’s wax museum. Armed with her sister’s journal and her own dangerous skills, Maude is determined to find answers and seek justice, navigating a path filled with adventure and character​.

  • The Unpicking by Donna Moore

    Recommended by Gaby, this book is by GWL’s own Donna Moore, and comes highly recommended by the Book Picnic group. The historical thriller spans from 1877 to 1919 and tells the stories of three generations of women dealing with systemic corruption and injustice in Scotland. The novel starts with Lillias Gilfillan in Stirling, 1877, a young woman who elopes, only to find herself ensnared in deception and debt. Moving to Glasgow in 1894, Clementina’s tale unfolds in a home for ‘wayward girls’, where she must navigate the dangers of the ‘Jingling Devil’ while pregnant and trying to save her best friend. In 1919, Mabel, one of Glasgow’s first policewomen, embarks on a mission to uncover a murderer, finding herself entangled in a web of corruption that puts her life at risk from the same ‘Jingling Devil’. Through these interconnected stories, The Unpicking explores the resilience and struggles of women against the backdrop of a changing society​. Gaby described it as very clever, accessible, and filled with detail.

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